NetApp Adds Fuel to SAN Fire

Is the market for storage area networks heating up?

By Clint Boulton | Posted Nov 6, 2006
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With its latest arrays for medium-sized businesses, Network Appliance is looking for some storage sizzle.

The FAS3070 and V3070 machines are targeted to knock EMC's Clariion CX3-80 and HP's StorageWorks EVA8000 out of data centers. The machines scale up to 252 terabytes (define)  of 4Gb FC SAN (define), 10 gigabit Ethernet iSCSI (define) and NAS (define) storage.

This ability to support applications based on FC, IP SAN and NAS in one box is something neither the CX3-80 nor the EVA8000 can do.

A long-time leader in the network-attached storage (NAS) market, NetApp is on a mission to offer all three storage protocols on one machine and also catch up with its rivals EMC, HP and others in the SAN sector.

Both machines offer certain tools not available in the CX3-80 and EVA8000, including double parity RAID 6 (RAID-DP); high-performance snapshots; and thin provisioning.

Perhaps the most significant feature in the FAS3070 is that IT administrators can significantly boost storage to 420 terabytes simply by popping out the controllers from FAS3070 and putting them into the high-end NetApp FAS3060 array.

This saves admins the time of having to migrate data or retrain staffers on the higher end machines, said Patrick Rogers, vice president of products and partners at NetApp.

By comparison, Rogers claimed, the EMC and HP systems require complete hardware and software replacement when upgrading to higher performing systems.

While the FAS3070 boasts this unusual expansion capability, the V3070 has the added perk of having a virtualization engine that can sit in front of arrays from HP, IBM and others, Rogers said.

The purpose: If customers want to use features from NetApp's arrays, such as FlexVol software for pooling storage resources, they may do so without ripping out the other vendor's arrays and replacing them.

Ripping and replacing their sunk costs with expensive hardware systems is probably the last thing businesses want to do with their IT dollars these days.

Moreover, the features in the FAS3070 and V3070 are akin to what customers usually get in a high-end array, demonstrating that NetApp is embracing the trend of offering customers advanced data management for the cost of a midrange machine.

The midrange systems come roughly six months after NetApp entered the high-end SAN array market with the new FAS6030 and the FAS6070 machines, giving customers the ability to run hundreds of NAS, SAN and iSCSI applications on the same array.

On the software side, NetApp today debuted an automated backup and replication management tool for NetApp disk environments. Protection Manager uses policy-based management to boost data protection in corporate offices, Rogers said.

Finally, NetApp unveiled NetApp CommandCentral Storage by Symantec, which blends storage resource management, performance, and policy management and provisioning for high-end SAN systems.

This piece of software reduces the tools that admins must use, plus triggers speedy storage and SAN deployment across mixed environments.

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